Vernal banker challenges Ure
March 15, 2006
A Vernal banker with virtually no government experience will challenge for the Republican nomination in the state Senate district that encompasses most of Summit County’s population.
Kevin T. VanTassell filed election papers to run for the District 26 Senate seat and will face David Ure, a popular member of the House of Representatives from Kamas, for the party’s nomination.
In Summit County, the district encompasses parts of South Summit and the West Side. It also stretches over parts of Daggett, Duchesne, Uintah and Wasatch counties.
VanTassell acknowledges that he is an "outsider" against Ure, who has served seven terms in the House and has had little difficulty in his recent re-election bids.
"He’s well seasoned. He’s got good history. It’s going to be a matter of getting out and getting to know the people," VanTassell said of his Republican opponent.
The Republicans will attempt to choose their candidate for the seat at upcoming conventions. If they cannot, a primary election will be scheduled to pick the party’s candidate.
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VanTassell said he expects to advance out of the party convention and onto a primary ballot against Ure. He said Ure, who is from Kamas, is distant from many parts of the Senate district.
Ure has said that the campaign for the Senate will be more difficult than his House re-election bids because of the wide expanse of the district and that lots people in District 26 are unfamiliar with him.
VanTassell, 54, works for Zions Bank and said he does not have state-level government experience but served on a hospital board in Duchesne County. He considers himself a conservative.
He said he wants to champion business at the Statehouse, saying that he has a good understanding of business. VanTassell said he is a fiscal conservative and wants taxes kept at an "adequate rate," saying perhaps state tax laws could require some "tweaking."
VanTassell said he has not finalized the economic plank of his platform but noted the importance of the economy.
"Business is what generates jobs," he said.
He said he has family in Wasatch and Summit counties and that he pledges to stay abreast of the issues in that part of the Senate district.
"It’s very progressive. It’s growing in dynamic proportions," VanTassell said.
Meanwhile, Jack Gray, a Democrat from Salt Lake City, wants his party’s nomination in District 25 of the House. The district stretches from the Salt Lake Valley into the Snyderville Basin.
Ross Romero, a Democrat from Salt Lake City, holds the seat but early in the week had not declared whether he would seek re-election.
Gray, 47, considers himself a "working-class politician" and works on the production line at a detergent factory. He was a member of the Teamsters union for four years in the 1990s, he said.
"I think I could represent working-class interests," he said.
Gray wants unions to become stronger in Utah, which he said would bring "better wages, more benefits."
"When the workers are happy, they spend more money," he said.
Gray said his stand for workers would benefit Summit County.
Gray also said he does not support the domestic spying of the Bush administration. He said he would support a state resolution condemning the practice.
Nobody had filed to challenge Gray by midday Tuesday.
The filing window for November’s Statehouse, congressional and county elections is Friday at 5 p.m.
The contest for the seat representing District 53 in the House, which Ure is vacating to mount his Senate bid, has attracted the most attention locally.
Two Republicans Mel Brown and R. Dee Putnam are competing for the party’s nomination. Democrat Laura Bonham and Gary Shumway, a Libertarian, are also challenging.
James F. Allen, a doctor from Vernal, filed papers to challenge for the Republican nomination in the Senate district in which Ure and VanTassell are running, the Uintah county clerk reported.